#USkManchester2016: Day 4: A sense of place: Thank you Manchester!

[By Liz Ackerley, Symposium Correspondent in Manchester, UK]  It is with a tear in my eye (and a slight sigh of relief that I made it to day 4!) on this the last day of The Manchester Symposium, but my goodness, haven’t we had a ball!

I started off Day 4 with one of my favourite Subjects as a landscape architect: Capturing a sense of place.  I caught up with Richard Briggs workshop at the Oxford Road Station approach, a great venue for a workshop entitled:  Capturing a sense of place: what to leave out, what to leave in. After giving an introduction to the history of the location, including the closure of Cornerhouse Arts venue and the plans to revamp Oxford Road Station, Richard quickly got the participants thinking by getting them to get a real sense of the place by walking around it and investigating, no sketching, just observing and looking.  What was their take on the space and what had they observed?  This then fed into some initial thumbnail sketches but not before Richard had given a demo, whilst explaining his thought process: what is the focus and main purpose of the sketch, what is absolutely needed in the drawing and what is not?  all of this helps to produce a more focused drawing that highlights the important features.   Its a challenging but revealing process and one which I for one need to think more about!

I then headed back to the School of Art (and the 6th Floor with fantastic panoramic views of the surrounding city) where Pat Southern-Pearce was giving her Activity session entitled Lettering, Line and Balance.   I have been admiring Pat’s stunning combined lettering and drawing work for a while and know that she is a very experienced teacher so I was excited about the opportunity to sit in on her session.  This image is a combination of my take on the class incorporating some of the ideas that she talks about, including lettering.  Pat’s session packed so much in and the participants clearly loved the quality ‘I am learning so much’ said one.  Pat broke her session down into 3 key elements and then colour and lettering were incorporated into these 3 main pieces:  Drawing through the window, using different line weights to convey the depth of the view and to produce a long drawing; only drawing on a part of the page, to one side, perhaps when you don’t have much time and finally, a panorama across the centre to one side.  There were lots of tips along the way too, like the use of different pens to create depth, the confident use of selective colour (using watercolour pencils dry, because they are more creamy than others and pressing hard) and the approach to a quality of line using a continuous line.    I wish I could have taken the class!

With workshops finished by lunchtime, in the afternoon I attended two lectures:  Drawing A Sense of Place, by Richard Briggs which connected nicely with the morning workshop I mentioned above.  The lecture focused upon the capture of a sense of place through drawing and how this can be used as a design tool to improve places.  Richard shared examples of his work as a way of illustrating his thinking and wants to encourage sketchers to think about the What (the subject) and the why to help with wider discussions about how we can use our observational skills to improve places and develop better cities.

The other workshop was a very useful summary about How to create a successful workshop proposal by Gail Wong, for those considering running a symposium workshop next year.  The lecture included tips and hints as well as examples of good proposals.  All of this information is going to be on the main Urban Sketchers site.

And last but certainly not least, we ended the day (well, the day before the party started!) with a final sketch crawl at All Saints Gardens.  How wonderful to be stood amongst so many others, all sketching and taking in the view and the ambience of the place and its people. So wonderful to have so many talented sketchers capturing the city that I call home!

I have met so many fantastic sketchers and friends that I have only previously met and seen on-line, including my correspondent friends: Tina, Kumi and Javier-its been a fantastic journey.  I am very proud to have been asked to be the local correspondent and even prouder to be part of the Manchester Team.  All of us, Manchester and around the world have Simone Ridyard, Founder of Manchester Urban Sketchers to thank for the most amazing event here in Manchester.  Thank you Simone and thank you Manchester!


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